'13 Reasons Why' Season 2 Episode 9 Recap: 'The Missing Page'
“13 Reasons Why” was one of the most talked-about shows of 2017. This season, we’re analyzing what each episode means for the mental health community.
This post is a review of season two, episode nine of “13 Reasons Why” and contains spoilers.
Finally! An administrator from Liberty High owns up to his actions instead of pretending like he did everything he could to help Hannah! What’s more shocking is that this revelation comes from my historically least-favorite character — Mr. Porter.
Mr. Porter starts his testimony the way you might expect, following the advice from the lawyers defending the school. The Baker’s lawyer presses him on the fact that as a guidance counselor, it’s his job to fill in the gaps, even if a student doesn’t explicitly say the words “suicide” or “rape.” He answers that he followed the Liberty High protocol. But when the Liberty High litigator questions him in a way that would affirm that yes, he did everything he could according to protocol to help Hannah, Mr. Porter’s defenses break down. After some long meaningful pauses, he owns up to his actions (finally!).
“I could have done more. I could have stopped her from walking out that door. She didn’t just leave, I let her go,” he said. Mr. Porter then begins to cry and says he was trying to do the right thing by following protocol, but he recognized that if he did the “right thing,” then the school’s protocol needs to change. Most importantly, he needed to change, he said. This was a huge moment, and it resolved a lot of my hard feelings toward Mr. Porter. He then turns to Mrs. Baker and says, “Mrs. Baker I didn’t mean to let your daughter down. I’m sorry.”
This is a huge moment, not because Mr. Porter is now perfect and we love him, but because it sets a precedent for telling the truth — something that has not been the case in this trial (seriously, so many characters have committed perjury on the stand). Finally, an adult from Liberty High acknowledges they could have played a role in getting Hannah help. I’m definitely not saying Hannah’s suicide was all Mr. Porter’s fault. But as a school administrator, I truly believe it was his job to fill in the gaps and contact both the police and Hannah’s parents in regards to her suicidal thoughts and sexual assault — even if she didn’t use those words specifically. Also, I was a huge fan of the show including his thoughts about what he should have said. When he’s testifying, Mr. Porter runs through how his meeting with Hannah should have gone. He says things like, “It wasn’t your fault” and “I’m going to help you. There are many people who want to help you.” This is obviously not how things went down the first time, but I was so glad the show included this scene as a model for how an administrator should respond to someone in crisis.
In the end, Mr. Porter narrates that both he and Hannah failed each other, that they needed to reach out and trust each other. To be honest, I didn’t love this, just because Hannah is a minor and didn’t “fail” anyone by not knowing how to reach out for the support she needed. But overall I was very pleased with his role in this episode. Bravo, Mr. Porter.
Now, for some other things that happened in this episode.
Chloe seems to wise up about Bryce. She listens to Hannah’s tapes that Clay released, and skips out on a brunch date with Bryce and his parents because of it. Bryce approaches her to tell “his side of the story” about Hannah. Because Bryce is the scum of the earth, naturally he says him and Hannah hooked up and she got obsessed with him. He says he never said anything before because he didn’t want to talk badly about a dead girl. He even throws in some teary-eyed gazes for good measure. Chloe seems to be buying it, especially when he asks her to spend the summer with him and his family on the Amalfi coast in Italy. It’s worth noting that trying to buy forgiveness is a classic entitled abuser move. Chloe’s excited by the prospect of going abroad because she’s never been. But once Bryce says everything will be paid for, Chloe visibly recoils a little. His baseball buddies then mob the table they are sitting at, and instead of telling them to buzz off, he says it’s fine because they weren’t interrupting anything. Really nice, Bryce. Your confession is so genuine, I almost believed it! Almost. Chloe leaves the table seemingly distressed. A few scenes later, Zach goes up to her and asks her if she’s OK. She somewhat robotically answers that she’s listened to the tapes but she believes Bryce. But does she really? I personally don’t think so.
While at school, Clay gets called into the principal’s office because he was absent on the day the tapes were released. The principal voices his concern about Clay, so he signs him up for Mr. Porter’s Alternate Strategies and Solutions class (A.S.S. for short if you didn’t realize how unfortunate the abbreviation is). When Clay gets mad at the way the principal and the school have handled Hannah’s suicide (by banning students from talking about suicide at all), he responds, “Suicide contagion is a real thing.” Here’s where things get problematic.
Clay absolutely has a right to be mad about the school banning students from talking about suicide. The students at Liberty High need to be able to move through their grief both collectively as a school and personally as individuals. Because the show is so black and white in showing which characters are “good” and which are “bad,” this particular point automatically positions the principal as the “bad Liberty High administrator who doesn’t have a clue.” But, in this conversation, the principal makes a lot of good points I fear viewers will dismiss because he belongs to the aforementioned category. He makes the point that whoever released Hannah’s tapes didn’t realize they were perpetuating the idea that people think they can live on after they die. He reinforces that while Hannah was wonderful, she’s dead, she wasn’t a hero and she didn’t “teach people a lesson.” And I agree with him. We can’t position suicide narratives as “noble” because they glorify suicide. We can’t give folks the impression that once you die by suicide, you “come back” to teach others valuable lessons. Suicide is tragic and we need to do all we can to prevent it, not glorify narratives that portray it as a viable and reasonable option. I was disappointed that these important topics came from a character aligned with the Liberty High administrators — a group who has over and over again been cast as “clueless” when it comes to suicide.
Jessica has been hanging out with Nina and her friends more and more. When they are hanging out, Nina remarks that her friend Damon has been staring at Jessica. Jessica laughs, but then the two get into a discussion about Jessica’s fears about dating since her sexual assault. She says she doesn’t think she even remembers how to flirt. Nina encourages her to try it out, and in the next scene we see Jessica and Damon having a flirtatious conversation. Jessica then leans forward to kiss Damon. This was important because Jessica took ownership in a romantic situation, reclaiming agency that was taken from her in her rape. Unfortunately, her dad pulls up in his car right at that moment. She bails on Damon quickly and gets into her dad’s car. He asks her why after everything she puts herself out there like that. When he said this I was annoyed, because Jessica shouldn’t stop living her life and keep herself away from men because she was raped. His statement reflects a common (and very backward) attitude about rape that if women didn’t put themselves in “risky” situations, they wouldn’t get raped. We need to be telling men not to rape, not telling women that they need to change how they act or dress to avoid being raped. The conversation ends up turning out well despite this comment and she confides in her dad that she thought she was ready to put herself out there again, but clearly, she’s not. She says she doesn’t want to “make a big deal” out of her rape and asks him to respect her trying to figure it out. While Jessica definitely still has to deal with her sexual assault, her dad agrees to support her and let her do things her way. This was so nice to see.
After Clay joins the A.S.S. class, Cyrus invites him (despite Tyler’s protests) to join him and Tyler in “getting back their power” because they hate the same people. At the end of the episode, we learn “getting back their power” means graffitiing the new Walker baseball field. While they are vandalizing the baseball field, they see a group of jocks go into what could only be the clubhouse! Clay departs immediately and gets together with Justin to figure it out. The episode ends with Cyrus and Tyler’s last act of vandalism — they burn the word “rapists” into the field.
Stray Observations and Future Questions
- Chloe has stopped wearing pink — her usual uniform. This outward change signifies an internal change towards Bryce, though we’re not privy to what her thoughts actually are at this point in time.
- Tyler and Mackenzie (Cyrus’s sister) go on their first date at the movies. They end up making out, and Tyler runs out. In the next shot, we see he came in his pants as a result of the kissing. Why was this included? Is it part of a subplot we will see play out in the coming episodes?
- Justin leaves his mom’s house and steals money from her drug dealer boyfriend again. His mom catches him and she says he will kill her when he finds out. Justin says, “Not if he can’t find you,” and leaves her some money. What will happen to Justin’s mom?
- Clay tells Justin about the Clubhouse at the end of the episode. If Justin was such a jock and one of Bryce’s lackeys back in the day, why doesn’t he already know about the Clubhouse?
- Clay is beaten up by four guys wearing helmets in the locker room. Who did this?
- Alex takes a job at Mrs. Baker’s pharmacy. Will Mrs. Baker continue to rely emotionally on every teenager in this town?
- All the windows on Tony’s car get shattered. He gets angry, hits his boxing coach and they get in a physical fight. He knows Tony is scared to tell him something but Tony refuses to say what it is. Then they make out.
- The episode shows Mrs. Baker going to a hotel room and asking a girl named Sarah not to testify. Who is Sarah and what information does she have that could hurt Hannah’s trial?
I appreciated the Mr. Porter plotline and how the show finally had an administrator own up to not doing more for Hannah. Was not a fan of the principal being painted as one of the bad guys when he made valid points.
What would you rate this episode? You can vote in our Twitter poll below or in the comments section at the end of this article.
We're reviewing "13 Reasons Why" season two and what each episode means for the mental health community. On a scale of one to four stars, how would you rate episode nine? #WatchWithTheMighty
— The Mighty (@TheMightySite) May 20, 2018
You can follow along with the rest of our “13 Reasons Why” reviews here.
Want to watch “13 Reasons Why” with us? Use the hashtag #WatchWithTheMighty when you post your thoughts on social media or let us know what you think in the comments below.
- What do you think of Chloe’s change in clothing? What do you think the colors she wears symbolizes?
- Did you agree with what the principal told Clay about suicide contagion? Why or why not?
Header image via Netflix.